Pro sports is going for green in a big way this spring:

The Atlanta Braves and Coca-Cola Enterprises are making a strong pitch for recycling.


The American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat, and the Philips Arena, the lair of the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Thrashers and the Atlanta Dream, have won LEED certification as green buildings.

And NBA players are planting trees, donning organic cotton shooting shirts and chatting with kids about the virtues of environmental responsibility.

An usher at Turner Field.
courtesy of Coca-Cola Recycling, Atlanta Braves

In Atlanta, the Braves and Coca-Cola Recycling launched their campaign this past weekend at Turner Field by rolling out more than 250 bins stamped with the program slogan "Give It Back."

As part of the program, a bright red shirt made from recycled PET bottles has become part of the official uniform for day staff at Turner Field. The "Give It Back"-themed shirts also bear the logos of the Braves and Coca-Cola Recycling and are to be worn at home games by ushers, the grounds crew, ticket takers and other stadium staff.

To drive the point home, the team and the recycling company plan to show a short video during every home game about the lifecycle of a 20-ounce plastic Coke bottle. The clip tracks the bottle from its purchase to its recycling for use in making apparel.
A new Coca-Cola recycling bin stands in the concession area of Turner Field. / This image and the ones above courtesy of Coca-Cola Recycling, Atlanta Braves.
courtesy of Coca-Cola Recycling, Atlanta Braves



Fun fact: It takes recycled five PET bottles to produce the yarn needed to make a shirt. Corollary fun fact: It takes 25 2-liter PET bottles to make a man's suit, as we noted last week.

Also in Atlanta, the National Hockey League announced on Monday that Philips Arena had received certification as a green building under the LEED standards maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The announcement by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was a bit of nose-tweaking for the American Airlines Arena, which celebrated its receipt of a LEED rating today. Both arenas received certification on the same day, the Miami notice pointed out.

Philips Arena.
courtesy of Philips Arena


"Congratulations to the Atlanta Thrashers and the entire Atlanta Spirit Organization for achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification of Philips Arena as the first green sports arena in the United States," Bettman said in a statement. "This accomplishment is even more notable considering that Philips Arena has achieved this certification as an existing facility."

Energy saving and resource conservation efforts at the arena resulted in cutting water usage by 11 million gallons in the past 11 months. The arena has also increased its recycling efforts, installed compact-fluorescent lights and has new carpeting made from recycled material.

USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chairman Rick Fedrizzi praised the arena owners and its tenants for their work to upgrade the property. "If every one of our 5.1 million existing commercial buildings in the U.S. followed the lead of Philips Arena and worked to become more energy efficient, we could save some $160 billion by 2030 and put a significant dent in our carbon emissions," he said in a statement.

Fedrizzi also lauded the American Airlines Arena and the Miami Heat Group's business operations unit for their efforts. "The American Airlines Arena's LEED certification is a tremendous achievement that will bring significant energy and water savings -- and, in turn, huge cost savings," his statement for the NBA said.

The Philips Arena is one of two sports venues that received a green building rating this week. / This image and the one above courtesy of Philips Arena.



The eco-friendly features in the American Airlines Arena include green roofing materials that reflect heat, reducing the need to cool the building, water-efficient landscaping, and underground parking, which -- by eliminating the use of acres of asphalt -- does not contribute to the heat-island effect produced by many urban buildings.

Leadership of the Miami Heat Group's business operations credited Waste Management, Dade Paper and other vendors for contributing to efforts to make the facility more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The American Airlines Arena in Miami. / Photograph by Marc Averette
Photograph by Marc Averette



The NBA's newfound focus on environmental responsibility is being highlighted in its first NBA Green Week, which began April 2, runs through the 10th and is being conducted in partnership with Natural Resources Defense Council.

In California, the Golden State Warriors planted trees last week and are giving away reusable grocery bags at their game tomorrow night, where they'll also be sporting organic cotton shooting shirts during warmup.

The Philadelphia 76ers' Elton Brand led a school assembly on green last week. In Texas, the Houston Rockets' campaign include a recycling program that features a different item every month. This month spectators are invited to bring old sneakers to home games.

And tonight at the Thunders game in Oklahoma City, spectators will have a chance to win a CNG car, courtesy of Chesapeake Energy.